Florida ER Doctor Fired for Offering Mask Exemption Letters to Parents of School Kids

Photo: (Photo : CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

A young Florida doctor who works in the ER has been fired after his hospital found out that he has been writing mask exemption letters to parents of kids whose schools have imposed a mask mandate.

Dr. Brian Warden of Tallahassee's Capital Regional Medical Center advertised his services in a Parents Against Masks Facebook group, where he's asking $50 per letter. He said that he could issue the mask exemption letter to those who live in Leon County, one of the ten counties in Florida that have defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' order to ban face mask mandates in school.

The doctor prepares the letters using letterhead with the logo and details of his company, Dove Field Health. He clarified to parents that while he is a real doctor, his offer to provide families an "opt-out" of the mask mandates was not associated with any group or hospital.

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Not an Ethical Practice

Leon County School District spokesperson Chris Petley said schools might accept Warden's letter because the mask exemption requirement only needs a note from a doctor, who should write it on a paper with an official letterhead.

However, Kenneth Goodman of the Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at the University of Miami Miller School said that this is not an ethical practice since Warden is helping parents get around a mandate that's supposed to protect the kids. Goodman said that while Warden might have wanted to advocate for the patients, he is putting the community's health at risk for issuing mask exemptions for a price.

Capital Regional Medical Center spokesperson Rachel Stiles said that Warden is a third-party provider at their hospital in a statement to the press. Upon learning that he has been offering the exemption letters on Facebook, the center started processing his removal and informed the board of trustees of the doctor's actions.

As his offer circulated on social media, other parents have reported the doctor to the Florida Board of Medicine. Warden has also refused to talk to the press following his meeting with the Capital Regional Medical Center human resources officials.

More than 3,000 mask exemption forms were submitted to the Leon County School District, according to USA Today. However, it's unclear how many of these forms were issued by Warden or if the school board rejected the document.

After graduating from the Temple University School of Medicine, Warden had his residency in Philadelphia at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He received his license to practice in Florida in February.

Mask Mandates in 52 Percent of Florida Schools

Aside from Leon County, Alachua, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, and Sarasota will not follow DeSantis' order to ban mask mandates. Schools in these counties make up over 52 percent of public school students or a combined 1.45 million kids.

However, the DeSantis administration said that schools that impose a mask requirement would be stripped of their financial funding. School boards have been going to court to uphold their decisions and call out the governor for overstepping his constitutional authority.

The debates surrounding face masks come as Florida's cases have surged in the last few weeks, with the highest number of new cases at 21,706 in a day. Deaths have been averagely under 150 a day.

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